Congratulations on your decision to participate in Wellstone’s Dallas White Rock Marathon presented by AT&T! Training for a marathon is not something to take lightly. Even the most well- conditioned athletes can sustain injuries while training for a marathon. As with all exercise programs, it is recommended that you are in good physical condition and have been cleared by your physician to participate in a vigorous exercise program. We hope that this section on training can provide you with the information you need to complete your 26.2-mile journey.

While it is possible to complete a marathon after having just started running, the marathon distance is very challenging and is recommended that you establish a base of running miles before attempting the marathon distance. The chances of injury are very high for those who are rising off of the couch to running a marathon a few months later. The training information contained here assumes you have been running for at least a year and have been injury-free during that time period.

Training Schedule Sample

In order to complete a marathon, you will need to run or walk 26.2 miles. This means that you need to be able to gradually increase your ability to run long distances until you are confidant that you will finish the entire 26.2 miles. The best way to accomplish this is to start with your longest run of the past few weeks and gradually increase that distance every other week. If your longest run over the past few weeks was 8 miles, you would try and run an extra mile every other week until you reached about ten miles and then start to increase by 2 miles every other week. The pattern should look similar to the table below:

Increase from Last Long Run

In the weeks in between your long runs you are best to reduce the distance of your long run by about 30%. This will give your body a chance to recover and to adapt to the added stresses that you are placing on your musculoskeletal system. As your long runs get longer it becomes more important that you are taking care of yourself.

Training Programs

One of the best ways to train for a marathon is to not “go it alone” and find a training partner or group to train with. Whether it is your best friend or a local training group, training with other people can lend a great motivational boost and social atmosphere to your training. Links to some popular training program are shown to the right.

How Long is Long?
There are several different schools of thought on how far your longest run should be. While there is no right answer it is important to understand the theories behind the schools of thought. The two main theories are:

  1. Run a distance equal to or greater than the marathon distance
  2. Train up to about 22 miles once or twice but do not approach the full distance

The main purpose of long runs is to adjust your entire body to running long distances and to better condition your aerobic system. During your long runs it is recommended that you run at a conversational pace and do not treat it as a race. Running at a conversational pace will enable you to stay in your aerobic range and help utilize your body’s fat for energy as opposed to glycogen. Even the leanest of athletes have enough stored fat to run several marathons back to back. Even at low heart rates you are never burning just fat, but a combination of fat and glycogen. The percentage of fat that you are burning is inversely related to your heart rate. The higher the heart rate that you are running at, the lower the percentages of fat you are utilizing. Using a heart rate monitor can assist you in running at a pace that is ideal for utilizing your fat reserves.

Ways to Prevent Injury

  • Gradually increase your weekly mileage and the distance of your long run.
  • Make sure your running shoes are designed for your feet and long distance training. Most running stores have shoe experts.
  • Listen to your body. If you have a nagging pain that does not go away, take some time off or consult a physician. Orthopedists, Podiatrists and Sports Medicine physicians are trained to handle many issues related specifically to running.
  • Get the additional sleep and nutrients your body needs.
  • Take at least a day off each week to let your body recover from the rigors of running.
  • A stretching program focusing on hamstrings, quadriceps calves, lower back, and iliotibial band will aid in recovery and reduce the chance of injury. Try to stretch at least once per day, preferably before and after you run.
  • Gradually warm up in the first few minutes to allow your body temperature to rise and to aid in the increase of blood flow to your muscles. Cooling down is as important as warming up. You need to gradually slow down in the last few minutes so that blood and oxygen can be diverted back to your brain and stomach.

The Wall and How to Get Over It

“The Wall” is the point in a marathon where your body starts to shut down and the marathon starts to become a matter of survival as opposed to an enjoyable event. For most runners this comes at about mile 20 – 22. White Rock has a few hills towards mile 20, dubbed the “Dolly Parton” hills, which lets runners know how their legs are feeling. The stories of runners who were on a pace to set personal records until mile 20 or 22 are too numerous to count. The point at which you will reach the wall will be determined by two factors:

  1. Your body’s energy stores
  2. The distance or length of time of your longest run

As discussed previously, your body only has so much glycogen that it can store, and you should be trying to utilize as much fat for energy as you can. The key to burning fat for prolonged periods of time is running at an aerobic (conversational pace) and providing your body with small amounts of carbohydrates that will prolong your bodies’ ability to burn fat. When your body no longer has glycogen, which is a stored form of carbohydrates, you are no longer able to burn fat and your primary source of energy is gone. At the point where your stored glycogen has been entirely depleted and you can no longer consume enough carbohydrates to create more glycogen, you hit the wall.


One of the biggest mistakes that runners make regarding nutrition is not eating enough for breakfast before training and races. As with most of the advice you will hear, try it in your training before you try it on race day. Your training is your practice for the race and you do not want to try eating breakfast the morning of the marathon if you normally don’t eat breakfast.

If you normally do not eat breakfast before training or racing try to start with a very small meal such as a half glass (4 oz) of orange juice or sports drink an hour or more before you run. If you can tolerate the juice or sports drink, add an 8 oz glass of juice and a half piece of toast with jelly or a half of a bagel. You can even substitute a PowerBar or other sports bar for the toast or bagel. The focus of this small meal is that you get the majority of your calories from carbohydrates and limit the fat and protein, which are harder to digest.

During your training runs and the actual race it is important to remember that your body has a limited supply of glycogen, which is stored in your liver and muscles. You primary source of energy for these long runs is fat which even the leanest athletes have almost unlimited supplies of. The key to nutrition on the long runs is giving your body periodic carbohydrates in the form of sports gel or sports drink.

What you are going to eat, the timing of when you take gels and what you are going to wear should be determined in your training runs and not during the race. You want to make sure that your body can tolerate the gels you are using as well as the frequency. I recommend that you start with 1 sports gel per hour and if your stomach can tolerate it, go to 1 every 45 minutes. Even if it’s in the last few miles of you’re run it’s okay to take an extra gel because you will need the additional calories and nutrients after the run.


Staying hydrated each and every day during your training is one of the best things you can do to help your running and improve your health. You would be surprised at the number of runners that show up at the start line already suffering from mild dehydration. The tips below should help you stay hydrated even beyond the finish line.

When the alarm clock goes off in the morning before training runs or races, the first thing to do is drink a full 22 oz bottle of water or sports drink. After the initial 22 oz bottle try to continue to sip on your water bottle up until the few minutes before you start running.

As you run, try alternating between water and sports drink. This will help you maintain your electrolyte levels and should not make your stomach feel to heavy or sloshy. If you can slow down at each aid station and consume a cup of water and sports drink you can stay fairly well hydrated throughout the race. If you are using sports gels you will want to consume the gel about a quarter mile before the aid station so that you can use water to wash it down. Walking through the aid stations is a great way to make sure you get enough fluid and to give your legs a break from running. I highly advise this strategy for novice runners.

After you finish the race you should start drinking water as soon as possible. Find the bottled water that is for finishers and drink a full bottle within the first few minutes of finishing. Continue to drink water and sports drink at a rate of about 22 oz per hour. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic and will hinder you from rehydrating.

The Last Mile

Best of luck on your 26.2 mile journey. If you would like additional information on training for Wellstone’s Dallas White Rock Marathon presented by AT&T please contact me:
The Leader in Personal and Multi-Sport Training
Brian Hasenbauer
5555 E. Mockingbird, Suite 2112
Dallas, TX 75206

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